The Heat Goes On

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Condit did catch one break last week, when law-enforcement sources said they now believe that Modesto-area minister Otis Thomas--who happened to do landscaping work for the Levys--had fabricated claims that his daughter had had an affair with Condit when she was 18. What is unclear, investigators say, is whether the Levys, who amplified the charge, had any reason to think Thomas was not telling the truth. A source who spoke to Susan Levy told TIME she believed his claims were "true and accurate." But any benefit Condit might have gained from that disclosure was undercut by a report that he had been spotted dumping something in a northern Virginia trash can hours before police were scheduled to search his Washington apartment. Investigators said they traced the item--a watch case--to a California woman who said she had given it to Condit.

All of this gives police another set of leads that may or may not get them any closer to figuring out what happened to Chandra Levy. In keeping the focus on the Congressman, the Levys are betting that at a minimum, Condit is still holding clues that could help them find their daughter. But they are taking a chance. If he isn't the key, someone else might be slipping away.

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